Hemp vs Marijuana - What is the Big Difference

Hemp vs Marijuana - What is the Big Difference?

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Hemp vs Marijuana - What is the Big Difference?

Are you wondering about the difference between hemp and marijuana?

If so you’ve come to the right place. This article will be going over the single biggest difference between hemp and marijuana of them all! That difference, of course, is THC content. Keep reading to learn more. 

Hemp vs. marijuana: the basics

Many people who do not deal with the products derived from the cannabis plant in everyday life do not know the difference and for them, the word hemp is synonymous with the word drug. But it could not be farther from the truth as you will understand once you read our detailed guide below.

The word marijuana is derived from the Spanish marihuana, the word used in Mexico for the plant, which in Latin is designated as cannabis Sativa. It was mainly Mexican workers who smoked it in early 20th century America. From there marijuana’s popularity spread through word of mouth to other cultures and languages.

The common name for the medical cannabis plant is hemp, which is also used for numerous industrial products made from the stems of the plant. These include, for example, ropes, cloth, construction materials. Hemp plant seeds are crushed to get oil, which is widely used for cooking and cosmetics. The oil is more saturated with healthy omega fats than linseed oil, and until the middle of the 19th century was as widely used as sunflower oil, and the same was true for seeds.

Hemp plants vs. marijuana: the similarities

From this point of view, both marijuana plants and hemp plants represent the same cannabis plant (cannabis sativa and cannabis indica). The real difference comes into play in regard to the female plants of this species. They have therapeutic properties that are based on cannabinoids. The effect of cannabinoids on the human endocannabinoid system is barely studied, but some of them are already well known. For example, THC has a pronounced psychotropic effect, while CBD and its varieties have no psychotropic effects but have powerful therapeutic properties instead.

It is because of the psychotropic effects of only one species of the plant that cannabis attained the reputation of being a drug that overshadowed the wide and amazing range of things that hemp can be used for. Today, we use the word “hemp” for plants with THC content below 1%, and the rest is called cannabis plants or marijuana. In most countries of the world, hemp plants are legal, and plants with high CBD content are considered therapeutic and are used to produce cooking oil, but high THC content cannabis plants are controlled substances - either prohibited or strictly regulated controlled by the government.

Hemp and marijuana/cannabis plants are similar in other ways, too. They both come from the same area of the world: the Kush regions of Afghanistan and India. Once residents in these areas discovered what they were working with, they quickly began to differentiate between the two types of plants. They began breeding industrial hemp to make rope and breeding marijuana to make more THC...and the rest, as they say, is history. The Kush region and surrounding areas continue to produce premium cannabis and hemp products to this day.

Hemp vs. marijuana: 4 key differences

Let’s shift gears now and look at four other major differences between hemp and marijuana that go above and beyond THC content.

Hemp vs. marijuana difference #1: marijuana contains more terpenes

Cannabis/recreational marijuana plant tends to be higher in both cannabinoids and terpenoids than hemp. That’s because it was bred for these very qualities! Some cannabis strains can reach 35% THC or more — good luck finding a hemp strain that’s over 30% CBD.

Times are changing, however. Hemp cultivars might not be as strong as cannabis cultivars, but they’re far stronger and more flavourful than they were five years ago. Look for more improvements in the near future.

Hemp vs. marijuana difference #2: marijuana isn’t as legal

Marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. It’s legal in Maine, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, and a growing number of other states, sure...but when it comes to federal law, cannabis/marijuana is still a schedule 1 controlled substance. The unlicensed production, sale, or transport of cannabis are all serious crimes.

Hemp-derived CBD, on the other hand, has been fully legal nationwide ever since the Federal Farm Bill was passed in 2018. This bill legalized hemp and stripped the DEA of its drug enforcement patterns. The bill also empowered each state to pass its own pro-CBD laws. Hemp and CBD oil sales are simply booming today — and you can thank 2018’s Federal Farm Bill for it.

Hemp vs. marijuana difference #3: hemp is easier to dose

Overdoing cannabis/marijuana can lead to some serious side effects — or at least side effects that feel serious at the time. Anxiety, paranoia, dry mouth, muscle tremors, and nausea/diarrhea are all potential side effects. Not good.

Hemp-derived CBD, on the other hand, is pretty hard to overdo. The CBD present in full-spectrum hemp products isn’t nearly psychoactive enough to get you high, euphoric, or anxious. CBD is mostly active in the peripheral body, unlike THC, which is mostly active in the brain.

Hemp vs. marijuana difference #4: hemp is more nuanced

Many people find hemp’s subtle upliftment much more enjoyable than marijuana’s super-direct high. The upliftment that comes with hemp is manageable, gentle, and totally well-rounded. While our hemp-derived CBD products definitely won’t get you high, they might be able to clear away your mental fog and have you feeling better. Discover the difference CBD can make when it comes to your mood today!

Hemp vs. marijuana: summing things up

Keeping the above things in mind, we hope you now have the facts straight. Hemp plant and marijuana couldn’t be much more different, but that’s not a bad thing. Each plant has plenty of pros and cons. When in doubt, stick with hemp: the plant possesses an incredible number of health benefits without many downsides. And don’t forget to have fun with it, regardless of which plant you choose.


1. What is marijuana?

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. It alters how the brain works and causes users to "get high." Marijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette (joint) or in a pipe or bong. Some users mix it into food or brew it as tea.

2. What is hemp?

Hemp comes from the plant Cannabis sativa. However, hemp contains very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Marijuana and hemp are both varieties of cannabis plants. So what's the difference, if hemp has such low levels of THC? THC is the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high. There are over 400 chemicals found in hemp and marijuana. The main chemical in hemp is cannabidiol (CBD), although it has many other uses.

3. Is Hemp Same As Weed?

Not really. Marijuana and hemp are both cannabis plants, but they come from different strains. Marijuana has high levels of THC and hemp has very low levels of THC. Marijuana is usually smoked, while hemp can be used to create various hemp products.

4. Hemp vs Marijuana. What is the main difference?

There's hemp and then there's marijuana. Both hemp and marijuana come from the Cannabis sativa plant, but hemp has a much lower level of THC. That's the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets people high. Hemp is typically used to make hemp products, such as hemp oil, hemp seeds, and hemp clothing, whereas marijuana is usually smoked as a cannabis cigarette (joint) or in a pipe or bong. Marijuana has high levels of THC and hemp has only very low levels of it. Hemp is also used to create CBD oil, which can be used as hemp oil or hemp tinctures.

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